Medieval Food

Jamie Picon

March 22, 2023

Medieval Food

Medieval foods were often plain due to the scarcity of resources. But the nobility could afford to eat sumptuous dishes with exotic spices on special occasions.

Cooks used several techniques to excite their foods, including playing and forcing visually. They also added vinegar to “point” or added bites to their dishes.


In the medieval period, meat was a staple of many European diets. Typically, people would eat pork and beef.

But they also liked other types of meat, including chickens and geese. These were eaten at special feasts.

The suckling pig was also famous, especially for those who wanted to eat something unusual.

Typical medieval foods included meat, vegetables, and bread. The rich ate more meat and game, while the poor were likelier to eat vegetable stews or pottages.

For the wealthy, food was an important marker of social status. Those in the noble class would dine on the fresh game seasoned with spices. Workers in manual jobs ate coarser food, such as barley bread and beans. They also drank wine imported from France and Italy for those who could afford it.


People often consider medieval food grand royal banquets or peasant gruel, but it was much more diverse. A study by researchers from the University of Bristol found that peasants ate meat, fish, dairy products, fruit, and vegetables.

Medieval people grew a range of leafy and root vegetables that would store well. The cabbage family was famous, as were summer squashes like zucchini.

They also grew a variety of cruciferous vegetables, including celery and radishes. Several legumes were also produced, such as lentils and beans.

One vegetable that only some medieval gardens would have been with is fennel. It’s an heirloom favorite that grows best in cooler weather and needs deep, rich soil and plenty of sunshine to thrive.


In Medieval society, food was an important marker of social status. Nobles dined on fresh meat seasoned with exotic spices, while peasants were served salted pork and barley bread.

Wealthy people enjoyed thick slices of brown bread called trenchers, perfect for soaking up juice and sauce from their meals. Eating fish was also common, though it was usually considered less prestigious than meat.

A medieval meal typically included four courses. The first course, or a main dish, consisted of soup or stews made from oats, leeks, and other vegetables. The second course was a lighter dish made from dairy products or sometimes fish. The third course featured expensive delicacies like roasted venison or tender meats. The last system featured soft and sweet words, such as baked fruit.


Typical medieval food consisted of bread, cheese, and other dairy products like butter, milk, and curds. Peasants kept cows and churned their milk to make curds, whey, and buttermilk.

Wealthier landowners often turned the milk into cream or soft cheese for their table. Dairy was a popular part of the diet, and many people enjoyed desserts made with thick, rich cream poured over strawberries.

Food was considered an essential part of social status in the middle ages. The nobility ate various meats, spices, and exotic fruits and vegetables usually imported from Asia.


The main ingredient of a medieval meal was usually bread. This was made from wheat and soaked in water or liquids such as wine or soup. Occasionally, it was eaten plain as an accompaniment to meat or vegetable dishes.

Medieval people also enjoyed the fruit. They wanted many types of fruits, including berries and nuts.

Farmers and manual workers commonly ate these foods, but they did not regularly feature in the diets of those who were not working.

Food was considered a symbol of social status and was a vital element in medieval banquets. Guests at lower levels of society were not offered elaborate cuisine, while those in the upper class enjoyed spit-roasted delicacies and tender meats.